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The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland (Canons) [Paperback]

Nan Shepherd , Robert Macfarlane
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Aug 2011 Canons (Book 6)

In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.

Shepherd spent a lifetime in search of the 'essential nature' of the Cairngorms; her quest led her to write this classic meditation on the magnificence of mountains, and on our imaginative relationship with the wild world around us. Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.

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The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland (Canons) + Mountains of the Mind: a History of a Fascination + The Wild Places
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Canons; Main - Canons Imprint Re-issue edition (18 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857861832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857861832
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain (Guardian)

Most works of mountain literature are written by men, and most of them focus on the goal of the summit. Nan Shepherd's aimless, sensual exploration of the Cairngorms is bracingly different

Book Description

Introduced by Robert Macfarlane

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly different 7 Aug 2011
By Emily
if you've reached the point of near boredom with the thousands of macho books of near death, tragedy and successful climbs which are typical of biographies and novels of the mountains, then you will find this a breath a fresh air.
Nan's use of language is poetic and beautifully visual and completely different from anything you will usually read about living and enjoying the mountains.

This is a must read for anyone who loves the Cairngorms, Scotland, or mountains in general. But if you simply have a love of beautiful language then you will find this a perfect introduction to the wilderness.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal, Spiritual and Beautifully Written 17 Jun 2010
For those who love the mountains for the emotional, spiritual and inspirational nourishment that they provide, then this book expresses it all in a very personal relationship with the mountains written in both poetic and philosophical prose. Beautifully written avoiding all the usual action, disaster and/or heroics associated with mountain stories.
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 20 May 2010
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Living Mountain is Nan Shepherd's love song to The Cairngorms. Many (probably most) books about mountains are written to show man (and it normally is men) on or against mountains. This book is different. This book places the author with the mountains.

This is an intimate and detailed study of the Cairngorms that focuses far more on rivers and light, the freezing of streams and the disorientation of mist, than it does does peaks or particular journeys. In this way the book seems directionless, but only if direction is defined in a geographical fashion. If the direction of travel relates to a journey of understanding then the book is not directionless at all, and charts the authors growing knowledge of the mountains.

If you are looking for a book full of daring deeds and heroic ascents, then this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a thoughtful account of how people build an emotional connection to a place and how individual aspects of that place can combine to form wonder, then you should read this book.

Highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry in prose 14 Oct 2008
This book is the most incredibly beautiful evocation of the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland. It is like reading poetry. I was living in Aberdeen in the seventies when it was published, and read it then, and like the author I walked and camped for days on my own in the Cairngorms and came to love their special qualities of light and space, spareness and harsh wild beauty. I met the author once, and was struck by her blue eyes full of the distance. She spoke so lovingly of the hills, and so descriptively. What a pity this wonderful book is no longer in print. It deserves to be. I read an article by Robert Macfarlane about it in a newspaper recently. He has discovered it, and I so wish many more people could do so too. We need wildness for our souls.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Toiling zenwards in the Cairngorms 27 Mar 2012
By technoguy VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nan Shepherd achieves in the Living Mountain,an irradiation of the `common' into the `universal'.She is a friend of the mountains and visits them like a friend.She sees the mountain tops as eddies on the plateau surface.This is a pilgrimage of mountain worship. As a'see-er' her empiricism is mystical.Her mineral self gains entry into interior recesses,cavities,hollows,chasms.She sees the earth as the earth must see itself:this is pure intellectual knowledge springing from the senses and the surprise of finding out from long acquaintance,the body itself thinks, knowledge is felt.Our bodies' motor-functions make us precognitively aware of the world,our subjectivity is embedded in the flesh of the world.'Place and mind interpenetrate until the nature of both are altered'.Our contact with nature has become enervated from this being in the world.Her book is a hymn to `living all the way through':to touching,smelling,tasting,and hearing the world.`Matter is impregnated with mind',and the world exists in a continuous `active mood...the grammar of now'.Her phenomenological attention and awareness `widen the domain of being in the vastness of non-being'.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.This book is a primer for the senses and the reading of the written word,bathed in a crystal glow of the elements,saturated with Being.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect and magical 15 Jun 2012
This is quite simply a perfect piece of literature. It is compelling, magical, mesmerising, and an absolute pleasure to read. Read this because you love nature, or the moutains, or read it simply because it is a brilliant piece of writing. If I had to get rid of most of my books and could only keep a handful, this book would be in that handful - because it is also a text to return to time and again.

Once again finding a book by chance in a good bookshop has proven the way to find unexpected gems
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic worthy of the name... 8 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If mountain literature were ever to have such a thing as a sacred text, then 'The Living Mountain' would surely be a candidate.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Delivered quickly and a great read
Published 14 days ago by GrayC
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime
One word. Sublime
Published 29 days ago by Lola
4.0 out of 5 stars to much eulogy from the foreword, the actual tale ...
to much eulogy from the foreword, the actual tale of living in mountains, breathing the air, watching the light, absorbing the conditions, the people, the flora and fauna. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ian D. Smart
5.0 out of 5 stars Ono of, if not the best books on the Scottish outdoors
Fabulous book that truly captures why people flock to the Cairngorms and the spirituality that is attained by those who keep going back for more.
Published 3 months ago by Kevin Findlater
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A1 goods and service
Published 4 months ago by Alison Haggart
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, beautiful, a deeply satisfying read
I read and thoroughly enjoyed this quite wonderful love letter to the Cairngorms two years ago. Last week, I did something I rarely ever do , I re read it, a result of having taken... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ian Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
A great book that makes me want to go there! Great delivery to my Kindle too. Everything just as it should be.
Published 7 months ago by Ms. Ta Gould
5.0 out of 5 stars If you've never climbed a mountain
This is the next best thing. Whilst TV and video can portray the majesty and beauty of a mountain, this book touches aspects that they never can, whether this is the smell or the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by D. C. Ulyatt
5.0 out of 5 stars a mountain book written by a writer
Not such a daft comment: many books about mountains and other wilderness areas are written by people whose prime role is as a mountaineer etc. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, eye opening and inspiring. Brilliant
Like many other reviewers, this short book has had real a affect on me.

Although, as the title suggests, its about mountains, (and is specifically about the Cairngorms),... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Couttsie
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